Parents told to aim low: ‘C is for celebration’
A NSW principal has told parents to "celebrate" kids who scrape by with a "C" grade in their half-yearly reports.
Children who achieve just the bare minimum in English and maths are to be praised, according to Canterbury South Public School principal Daniela Frasca.
But the merriment over mediocrity isn't good for schoolchildren, who should rather be encouraged to improve their performance rather than coast along, experts warned.
In the school newsletter this month, Ms Frasca wrote to parents that the lowly grade was a sign their child was on track.
"C" IS TO BE CELEBRATED," she wrote in the fortnightly "The Chatterbox".
"C means that your child is 'on track' in relation to what he or she is expected to learn. Other grades will indicate whether your child is doing better than expected or needs more help."
Failure is literally not an option in the grading system, which only goes down to an "E".
According to Ms Frasca, an "E" grade means a child is finding learning "difficult" but only "at this time and in this area".
University of Sydney Educational Psychology Professor Helen Watt said aiming for mediocrity wasn't in the students' best interests.
"I do think is the wrong message - I can't help but think of George (W.) Bush saying 'C' students can be president," she said.
"A 'C' grade on its own is nothing to be celebrated, but if it means they've improved, that should be what is being celebrated."
Prof Watt said the move towards making every child feel special, no matter how ordinary their achievement, began in 1983 after education expert Howard Gardner developed his theory of multiple intelligences - that said everyone was special in their own way.
That filtered through to schools in the 1990s and gave students an inflated sense of their own capabilities.
She said the fashionable philosophy among teachers now is Carol Dweck's "Growth Mindset", which encourages teachers to reward effort and improvement.
Canterbury South's 276 pupils have not been faring well in NAPLAN - since 2012 its average results in numeracy of Year 5 students has fallen below similar schools. In spelling the school has returned below average performances since 2015. Year 5 students have been below in grammar and punctuation since 2013.
Ms Frasca declined to comment. An Education Department spokesman said a "C" was a "sound outcome" that meant a child's work was "on track".